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Release: Immediate

UI President presents award to Cedar Rapids teacher May 6

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa President Mary Sue Coleman will present Sue Grabe, a second-grade teacher at Prairie Crest Elementary School in Cedar Rapids, with an Iowa Distinguished Teacher Award during a ceremony Wednesday, May 6 at the school.

Grabe, who has been teaching at Prairie Crest since 1981, was cited for her extraordinary commitment to her students, their families and the profession.

One of four teachers selected for the 1997 Iowa Distinguished Teacher Awards, Grabe will receive a $1,000 grant for equipment and teaching materials for the school during a classroom presentation at 2 p.m. May 6.

"As a graduate of Iowa public schools, and through my travels throughout the state, I know there are many, many examples of excellent teachers in Iowa classrooms," Coleman said in announcing the awards. "And I know the difference that their commitment makes in the lives of young people.

"The Distinguished Teacher Awards are our way of recognizing some of the very deserving people who don't often hear the words, 'Thank you,'" she said.

Coleman redesigned the awards ceremony in 1996 so that she could personally visit the school of each recipient and present the awards. She also created the $1,000 grant as a way of letting each school share in the honor.

Coleman will present the award to Grabe. Also on hand will be Steven R. Yussen, dean of the UI College of Education. Representing the school will be Ying Ying Chen, principal of Prairie Crest, and Mick Starcevich, superintendent of the College Community School District.

Chen said Grabe's teaching style is so personal and unaffected that Grabe often doesn't notice the impact that she has on her students' young lives.

"Sue has the reputation of turning the most challenging children into success stories," Chen says. "To her teaching is not only principles and techniques, but a form of art."

Grabe began teaching in 1981 as a learning disabilities resource specialist for fifth and sixth grades at Prairie Crest. Since then, she taught special education classes, first grade and fourth grade before becoming a regular second grade teacher in 1996.

Grabe earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Northern Iowa.

The UI has presented the Distinguished Teacher Awards since President James O. Freedman initiated the program in 1984.

Freedman established the awards to honor teachers who have profoundly influenced the lives of their students, particularly in the skills of critical reasoning and clarity of expression. The awards emphasize the UI's commitment to education and its recognition of the interdependence between K-12, community college, and university education.

The Distinguished Teacher Awards are co-administered by the UI Office of the Provost and the UI College of Education. Each elementary, junior high school and high school in the state is invited to submit one nominee for the award each year.

Winners are chosen by a committee chaired by Yussen. Other members are UI faculty and licensed teachers and administrators.


EDITORS: As part of the selection process for the Distinguished Teacher Awards, recipients are nominated by supervisors, colleagues, parents and students. Here's a sample of what Sue Grabe's nominators wrote about her:

Supervisor: "[Grabe] offers nothing but the best to her students day after day, yet she is still 'searching for better ways.' . . . To her, an unlimited repertoire of teaching strategies is a must. She takes initiatives in researching and studying in order to meet the needs of all students."

Colleagues: "[Grabe] inspired me to take risks and set personal goals in order to enhance my teaching skills. Sue daily instilled positive encouragement with friendly words and pats on the back. She cares not only for her own students, but for all students. Sue lends a helping hand to anyone who needs her: colleague, student or friend. Sue is a warm, cheerful person who exhilarates her personality into the classroom and makes learning fun. Her compassion for teaching is evident every day when you see her students leave her classroom with a cheerful smile and a wave good-bye."

Former student (now in third grade): "I think Mrs. Grabe should be teacher of the year because she is nice. She is a good teacher. She does not embarrass you when she wants to talk to you. She plays games with you on special days. She helps me find books because she knows I love reading!!"

Parent: "If a child's first years of school are negative ones they can be lost forever to learning. . . . [Our son] is not a bookworm, yet it is like Mrs. Grabe opened his eyes to a new discovery. He is constantly writing about everything. This is no small task with a boy hooked on sports."